Q&A: How do I deal with red wine spilled on my favorite wool rug?

Consumer Reports News: March 05, 2010 01:59 PM

On a couple of occasions a friend has spilled red wine on my expensive beige wool rug, creating a couple of small stains that I've covered up with furniture. She's coming to a dinner party next week. What should I do if she spills wine then, and how can I eliminate the stains?

You might consider uninviting your friend or drinking only whites. Short of that, if Ms. Fumblefingers strikes again, you need to act fast to clean up the wine and to prevent a stain, says Pat Slaven, our in-house textile expert. Use a clean white cloth or paper towel to blot the wine, then dip another clean cloth/towel in soap and water and blot.

Red Wine Stain
Act fast to prevent red-wine stains.

Your last step is to blot the area with another clean cloth/towel and a capful of hydrogen peroxide until the stain is lifted. Remember, avoid scrubbing, which can damage the rug, and applying heat, which might cause the stain to set. Clean the rug pad the same way.

This spot-cleaning method might work even with supersized stains. And remember, don't try to remove a red-wine stain with white wine. It will create a slow-to-develop brown stain that's almost impossible to remove.

While you might think hydrogen peroxide will bleach the rug, it won't if you apply it sparingly. Large amounts of peroxide could damage the rug backing, so begin with one capful at a time and continue blotting. If the peroxide seeps into the rug pad, let it dry completely before placing the rug back on it. (Keep a sealed bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand, since it starts to lose its potency once opened.)

Also consider getting the rug professionally cleaned every three to four years to keep the carpet looking its best or to try to eliminate set stains. Our latest report on carpet cleaners and carpet-stain removers found that nothing beat the ease and performance of hiring the Stanley Steemer professional cleaning service.

The Hoover Dual V Steam Vac All Terrain with Spin Scrub F7452-900, $270, and Bissell ProHeat 2x9200, $250, came close and will cost less in the long run. Check out or reviews of carpet cleaners and ratings of carpet-stain removers (available to subscribers).

Essential information: Learn how to keep your carpets looking their best. And check out our buyer's guide to wine, which includes reviews and ratings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Rioja, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz/Syrah.

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